Monday, December 31, 2007

Painting the Long-beaked Echidna

Long-beaked echidnas look rather different than the short-beaked ones most people are familiar with. I tried to give it short fur, without many individual brushstrokes. I also put some purple and blue in the coat, which didn't show up very well in the scan. Incidentally, I painted this partially in the dark due to the power being out.

And with this picture, I've finished the ten focus species for 2007, in the last 2 hours of 2007! I hope to begin to paint the remaining animals on the 100 list. I'll have to see if there is a list of focals for 2008. This has been a fun project; I enjoyed learning about all of these species, and at the same time trying out different art techniques and poses.

Long-beaked Echidna

The long-beaked echidna, Zaglossus bruijni, is a solitary creature that can grow to almost 2 feet in length. They have no teeth; their tongues are covered in small projections that help hook worms, insect larvae, and termites. Females can lay several eggs at once, keeping the young in the pouch until they start developing their spines. Long-beaked echidnas are found in Papua New Guinea, where hunting by local people and habitat destruction are leading to their endangerment. A related species, Attenborough's long-beaked echidna (Z. attenboroughi) was thought to be extinct. However, recent evidence may confirm that a population still survives.

Painting the Hispaniolan Solenodon

Solenodons are pretty weird things (especially the Cuban one). They look a lot like the R.O.U.S.'s from the Princess Bride. They're a good trivia question too, with their venomous spit. I still have trouble mixing up various shades of the tannish color that a lot of animals like to be. This is yet another tiny-eyed creature.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Hispaniolan Solenodon

The Hispaniolan solenodon, Solenodon paradoxus, is a somewhat clumsy nocturnal burrower. This animal is unusual because it can secrete toxic saliva from a lower incisor, making it one of the very few venomous mammals. It also has a special bone known as the os proboscis that supports its long snout. Hispaniolan solenodons are found in the forests of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. They are in danger of extinction due to habitat loss and human-introduced predators.

Painting the Slender Loris

Lorises always look so soft and plushy. And they have strangely human arms and legs. Many of the photos I found had them crunching on bugs and lizards. Baby lorises are both very cute and a bit scary. I tried to make the other paintings without any sort of background or "props" other than the animal, but I couldn't come up with a natural pose of a slender loris without a tree limb.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Slender Loris

The Slender Loris, Loris tardigradus, is a nocturnal primate found in Sri Lankan forests. It eats insects, small vertebrates, flowers, and tree gum. The tailless animal spends much of the day rolled in a ball sleeping, sometimes in groups. Slender lorises rarely leave the trees. This species is hunted for folk medicines and meat; its habitat is also being destroyed.

Painting the Pygmy Hippopotamus

I have seen a pygmy hippo in real life, yay! He was in a zoo in Hawaii, being very cute and chubby, and he yawned as I looked down on him. Looking up reference photos makes me want to paint pygmy hippos every day, all the time. They all look very shiny and squishy. Baby hippos are almost too cute to exist!

I love taking pictures of animals with their mouths open, and to a lesser extent, painting them with their mouths open. I'm not really sure why; I guess to me it adds a bit more interest than an animal just standing there. I also like getting a photo of an animal scratching itself. Yes, I'm weird. By the way, my cat was helpful in the positioning of the legs of the previous hippo picture. She doesn't look very hippo-like, but I'll take any quadruped I can get to stand there and pose.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Pygmy Hippopotamus

The Pygmy Hippopotamus, Hexaprotodon liberiensis, has eyes and nostrils that are set lower on the sides of their more rounded heads than the common hippo. This species is also more solitary, and spends more time out of the water. They were officially declared a new species in 1911. Approximately 2,000 Pygmy Hippos live in fragmented swampy areas of western Africa. Deforestation and the bushmeat trade are causing this animal's numbers to decline.

Painting the Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew

I read that elephant shrews thump their tails and feet when threatened; that's what this golden-rumped elephant shrew is doing. It looks kind of like its dancing. I'd like to see one of these guys in real life. They have cool colors, and I want to watch it moving its weird snout around.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew

The Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew, Rhynchocyon chrysopygus, is one of the largest species of shrew. These rabbit-sized creatures have long flexible snouts; under their bright golden rump patch is a thickened layer of skin that may protect against bites of both predators and rival elephant shrews. This animal is found in a very limited, and shrinking, habitat in Kenya; golden-rumped elephant shews' numbers are in decline due to deforestation.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Painting the Long-eared Jerboa

I had a very hard time with this jerboa. I could only find about 5 reference photos. I try to watch video of an animal if I'm unfamiliar with its structure, to see how it moves and get a better idea of it as a 3D critter. The 2-second clip of a long-eared jerboa did not help at all. I did some other sketches of different poses, but I'm not very happy with how any turned out. I may come back and redo this one when I finish all the others. I also have a hard time mixing the correct color of this thing; that weird grayish-brownish color. It kept coming out greenish. Oh well, can't win 'em all!

It doesn't help much that my cat was sitting on my desk the whole time I painted this. I sit by a window to get some natural light, and my cat likes to look out the window at birds, so her tail was whipping around in my paint and over my paper, and she kept trying to drink my paint water.

Long-eared Jerboa

The long-eared jerboa, Euchoreutes naso, is a jumping rodent. They live in sandy deserts in north western China and Mongolia. Little else is known about these insectivores. Their populations are in decline due to human encroachment into their habitat.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Painting the Bactrian Camel

I'm proud of myself; this picture was heavily referenced from sketches of camels at the San Diego Zoo. I also had photos I took of cute baby camels at the fair to help with textures. I had to paint the shadows with purple instead of blue, so it wouldn't look too green.

My only regret is that in this pose, you can't see the camel's neato feet. I was surprised that bactrians are as endangered as they are, with all the domesticated ones around the world. Some bactrian camels have fun hairstyles, so I made mine have a cool 'do too.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bactrian Camel

Wild Bactrian Camels, Camelus bactrianus, live in the harsh Gobi Desert. These animals have smaller, more conical humps than domestic camels; they're also less bulky. Their long eyelashes and sealable nostrils keep out the frequent sandstorms. There are over a million domesticated bactrians, but the wild variety is critically endangered. The camels, numbering less than 1,000, are threatened by resource and habitat competition with livestock and hunting.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Painting the Yangtze River Dolphin

I'm doing these paintings in random order, but I decided to finish the Yangtze River Dolphin next. It makes me sad to think that they're most likely extinct, or have so few left that the population won't recover. I tried not to make it look too cute, but what can you do when it's already smiling? This one gave me some trouble; it's so smooth, I couldn't hide my brushstrokes with fur texture. I ended up darkening it a bit more than I had intended to do. Most of my reference photos were from dead animals with varying colors, so hopefully this is accurate. Strange fact about me: I always paint the eyes of animals last (I think most people start with the eyes). On this painting, it pretty much looked the same before and after I added the eye.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Yangtze River Dolphin

The Yangtze River Dolphin, Lipotes vexillifer, is also known as the Baiji. It is a freshwater species found only in a small portion of the Chang Jiang. It probes the muddy river bottom with its upturned snout for fish. Little else is known about these secretive animals. The dolphin was determined to be functionally extinct at the end of 2006; however, there was a possible sighting in August of 2007. The Yangtze River Dolphin's numbers declined due to boat collisions, loss of habitat, hunting, and capture in fishermen's nets.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Painting the Hirola

For each animal, I'll make another post like talking a bit about the process of painting, plus any other fun facts. According to The Ultimate Ungulate Page, an excellent resource if I do say so myself, there is only one captive hirola (an elderly female in Texas). This picture is a female, since they have more reddish coloring than the grayer males. As seems to be a very common problem, I couldn't find any good photos of the hirola's feet, so I did the best I could on leg coloring and hoof structure. I had to sculpt a little head out of my rubber eraser to get the angle of the horns to look right.

Again, I had very few references, and I used some photos of different antelopes I took at the San Diego Zoo to finish this picture. Hirolas have long strange faces that are fun to draw, with a neat chevron between their eyes. Their preorbital glands are a bit disturbing to me.

Monday, October 15, 2007


The Hirola, Damaliscus hunteri, is also known as the four-eyed antelope, due to its large preorbital glands. Both males and females have ridged, lyre-shaped horns. These antelopes are found on arid plains in south-east Somalia and Kenya. The estimated 600 wild hirola are threatened by poaching and habitat loss.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Painting the Bumblebee Bat

All of the paintings of the ten focal species will be watercolor on Bristol board. I'm using Winsor & Newton Artists' paints, from both tubes and half pans. I have a Cotman brush, and brought out the big guns by using my Series 7 W&N brush, size 3. Since I can't work very wet on the bristol, I used a lot of thin layers of color. I can't do large washes, so it's trial and error in coming up with ways to try to blend the colors smoothly. Each piece will be completed on a 5"x7" paper.

Bats have always been hard for me to draw. Their arms and legs have strange structures; they're so bony, and their wings can bend in lots of weird ways. Their legs and feet almost seem upside down to me. I had one photo I took of taxidermied bumblebee bats to work from, and a few other photo references and illustrations. I like this bat's fuzzy round body.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Bumblebee Bat

The Bumblebee Bat, Craseonycteris thonglongyai, also known as Kitti's Hog-nosed Bat, is the world's smallest mammal. It weighs about two grams, and the picture above is approximately life-size. It lives in limestone caves in a small western region of Thailand. Bumblebee bats hunt at dusk in bamboo thickets. These bats have large ears, upturned noses, and lack tails. Their numbers, estimated at 2,000 individuals, are declining mostly due to logging and deforestation.

Friday, September 7, 2007

EDGE Focal Species

The ZSL has chosen ten high-ranking species to be the focal species for 2007. These animals had little or no conservation attention, and will be researched further. Here are this year's focal species.

Yangtze River dolphin – Lipotes vexillifer
Long-beaked echidna – Zaglossus bruijni
Hispaniolan solenodon – Solenodon paradoxus
Bactrian camel – Camelus bactrianus
Pygmy hippopotamus – Hexaprotodon liberiensis
Slender loris – Loris tardigradus
Hirola – Damaliscus hunteri
Golden-rumped elephant shrew – Rhynchocyon chrysopygus
Bumblebee bat – Craseonycteris thonglongyai
Long-eared jerboa – Euchoreutes naso

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The EDGE of Existence

The Zoological Society of London has created a program to protect the world's most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered animals, called the EDGE of Existence. Researchers have come up with a list of 100 unique mammal species that have few close living relatives and are in danger of extinction. Their goal is to begin conservation efforts for these poorly known animals.

I have always been interested in the strange and unusual animal species. When I read about this project, I decided that I would like to try to make an illustration of each of the 100 EDGE mammals. I hope that this personal challenge helps to raise awareness for these species. I'll be posting my paintings, along with more information about the species, as I finish them. I don't have any set date in mind to have them all finished, and I don't even know if I can find enough reference on each species. But I hope that I'll have illustrated the ten focal species for 2007 by the end of the year.